Wallace Wattles: An early pioneer of New Thought


What the Bible says about Service

God: The Servant of Man by Wallace Wattle

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  WallaceWallace Wattles

Before Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling book The Secret, few people know that the New Thought movement has had strong proponents as early as 1910 thanks to author Wallace Wattles. Wattles is best known for writing The Science of Getting Rich, a guide to empowering individuals to acquire wealth through positive thinking and self-motivation, as well as The Science of Being Well.

 The New Thought movement is mostly propelled by the belief that positive thought, applied to daily living, will help you achieve success in any part of your life. By practicing such principles, you can reach a divine state that promotes healing in oneself and others.  It is a movement composed of philosophical intellectuals, various religious denominations, and authors. Other figures associated with the movement are William James, Joseph Green, and Thomas Troward.

 Born in 1860, Wattles came from an underprivileged family, with a farmer for a father, and a housewife for a mother. In 1896, while attending a convention, he was greatly influenced by a minister George Herron, who practiced Christian Socialism. Wattles once worked for the Methodist Church, but was fired due to his Christian Socialist writings. He also dabbled in politics, running for small roles in public office in Indiana, and lost twice.

 Massachusetts-based publisher Elizabeth Towne of the New Thought magazine Nautilus ran a lot of Wattles’ articles. Wattles often taught lectures in Chicago, then the hub of the New Thought movement. Wattles was a firm practitioner of his own teachings, and used creative visualization to attain his goals. His daughter attests that his success was brought about by his constant writing and self-improvement. He was also a big admirer of writers such as Georg Hegel and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and encouraged his readers to explore their writings.

Wattles was married to Abie Walters, and they had three children, Florence, Russell, and Agnes. Florence followed in her father’s footsteps, and became a Socialist herself.

 He died in Tennessee in 1911, just following the publication of his two popular books. He was 51.

 The Secret was actually greatly influenced by Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich. Its author Byrne recalls her daughter giving her a copy of it during a tumultuous time of her life, thus becoming her inspiration for her book.

 Although Wattles never gained commercial popularity, he is still regarded as an important fixture of the New Thought movement, with his works still being referenced by self-help publications to this day.


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